Archive for the ‘French Newspapers’ Category

The B2 reading portion

It was a bit more difficult than I expected. That’s due to the questions aren’t always straightforward. They tend to deal with themes, which was something that also applied on the listening section. The obvious example of this was the three opinions on home schooling. You had to evaluate the strength of their opinion since they didn’t come straight out and say “this is a good/bad idea.”

The only way to prep for this is to read a lot. Summarise what you read.

I think the DELF is more about test taking than actual knowledge. One person said you could pass the B2 with a super mark, yet be unable to order a coffee at CDG airport. Not sure if I totally agree with that statement.

Just remember to answer every question. Try and make an educated guess if you are unsure.

You only need to get 5 points on each section to pass. So, as long as you don’t totally blow a section, you will probably pass if you can get reasonable scores on most of the sections. So, I can get a not so great score on the listening and writing sections if I did really well on the spoken and reading sections and still pass: as long as no section is less than 5/25.

General thoughts on the DELF B2:

I like to think I passed the test, but I am prepared to take it again if I didn’t. That said, what do I think was the most useful? What would I do differently? What strategies would I advise someone who wants to take the Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française or the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française to use?

First off, the best thing is to either grow up speaking French, or spend some time in France, or other francophone region, living the language for 3-6 months. Better yet, a year using French as much as possible with francophones. It’s not really useful doing this unless the people you are interacting with are native speakers. There are linguistic nuances which just taking a course won’t give you.

That’s probably not an option if you are reading this. The next best thing is to listen and to watch French media. RFI (https://www.rfi.fr/fr/direct-monde) is a really good choice since most of the listing segments came from them. You will have a bit of a leg up, especially if you heard the segment in question. I’ll take more about the different parts of the test in subsequent posts.

Reading is also helpful for learning orthographie. But it’s better to get a good handle on spoken French since the reading and speaking parts were fairly easy. Speaking was the easiest, but it helped to have listened to the clips. That said, there are a few site run by the French Government and media to help you prepare for the test.

You definitely want to take the test and can get old copies of the test here: http://delfdalf.fr/delf-b2-sample-papers.html. The new format test is the most useful since that was pretty much what the test was like. The more I look at those, the more I think I did all right.

The two places you will have the most control over are the speaking and writing sections. The reading and listening sections are pretty much multiple guess on spoken and written segments. Again, taking the tests are the most helpful. I think working on the listening “comprehension” is the more useful of the two.

I’m not sure how useful most of the pass the DELF books are, other than the ones that prep you for the writing part. It really is go in with a bunch of “phrases tresors” and fill in the holes. “Phrase tresor” was a term used at Chateau Ceran for phrases that would prove useful in learning French. In this case, they are terms that are useful for making an argument. More on that when I talk about the writing part.

The bottom line is that unless you are a francophone, or can spend intensive time with some before the exam, you will need to study. But even francophones can have some problems with these tests because of how the questions are written (take the sample course to see). I’m planning on doing a few posts on the test. One for each of the four segments, one for prep material, study hints, and a final summary. I’m not sure which of the four I should start with: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking, or writing. In a way reading and listening overlap as do speaking and writing. There are some differences.

Actualités de Brexit

Now, I know where my news about Brexit will come from in the most part: Le Figaro.

Now I’m really surprised that I never made anything of my degree in European Legal Studies. Toss in my thesis for my JD dealt with fisheries. Maybe I should have asked the Greenpeace chief in Brussels for a job instead of hoping for big bucks in the world of business when I found out he was a neighbour (and all round nice guy).

Exam anxiety

OK, I test in at either advanced intermediate (B2) or advanced (C1) CEFRA (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level depending on the site doing the testing. I’ve been told the grammar on the French B2 is stuff that is pretty easy. Still, I am back at Kwiziq taking their tests, but I think they are like a US public school which passes you to the next level whether or not you are ready for it. Also, Kwiziq is really more about test taking than actual knowledge.

I have been reading the following French newspapers for the last year or so: Le Monde, Liberation, and L’Obs. They are all considered advanced by this website. I decided to take a peek at L’Express which they say is intermediate in skill level.

Compared to this Dickensian sentence from Le Monde

Il aura fallu près de dix années de mobilisation, scandées d’annonces aussitôt suivies de piteux démentis, mais le résultat est là : à Venise, depuis le 1er août, les bateaux de croisière de plus de 25 000 tonnesn’ont plus le droit d’emprunter au ralenti le canal de la Giudecca pour passer devant la place Saint-Marc, offrant aux croisiéristes un point de vue unique au monde – et aux habitants de la ville l’impression désolante d’être frôlés par des monstres à l’effrayante démesure. Jusque-là, ce parcours pouvait être emprunté par des navires allant jusqu’à 110 000 tonnes.

The amusing thing is that the three I read are considered Lefty. Liberation was “founded in Paris by Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge July in 1973 in the wake of the protest movements of May 1968. Initially positioned on the extreme-left of France’s political spectrum, the editorial line evolved towards a more centre-left stance at the end of the 1970s.” L’Express is conservative.

Go figure.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_France

Translation of above:

It took almost ten years of mobilisation, scandalised by announcements immediately followed by pitiful denials, but the result is there: in Venice, since 1 August, cruise ships of more than 25,000 tonnes have no longer been allowed to use the Giudecca Canal to pass in front of Saint Mark’s Square, offering cruise passengers a unique viewpoint in the world – and the inhabitants of the city the distressing impression of being brushed by monsters of frightening excess. Until now, this route could be used by ships of up to 110,000 tonnes.